Once again, I have allowed myself to get in a big hurry. My wonderful wife just reminded me that a very important event occurred in May that I have not even mentioned. So before I give you Part II of Major Battle Won I must take you back to this one.
Riley Hospital Oncology Department always tries to provide the kids the opportunity to forget about what is wrong with them for a short period of time and let them feel normal. In 2009 someone came up with the idea that there should be a prom. In late April there was a pre prom event that we were invited to. This event was named Promingdales and was simply amazing in itself. This was held in the conference area of the basement in Riley’s Outpatient Center. They had transformed the area into a high scale store like Bloomingdales.
When you walked in you were asked to sign in and then you were assigned a personal shopper. This person would be with you the rest of the evening and would make sure you receive your full benefit. The purpose of the evening was to pick out all the clothes and accompanying items that would be worn to the prom. Imagine our shock when we found out that this event was not only for Brianna. This was for the whole family! The main room beyond registration was filled with shoes down the sides and at the end an area to choose colors and be fitted for tuxedos. We were taken to a small room off to the side and the walls of the entire room were lined with dresses where Angie, Tori, and Bri picked out formal dresses. We then went into one of the conference rooms that had been transformed into a fitting room in one half and the other half held jewelry, scarves, and boas.
The ladies went in and began to try on the dresses they had picked out. I walked around to check everything out and Tori came out in her dress and said Bri wanted me to see her. Tori had picked out a really cute red dress. It was a little strange to see her in a dress because she has always been such a little tomboy. She has always been more comfortable in a pair of basketball shorts and a tshirt than a dress. She was beautiful. Brianna on the other hand has always been very much a girl. On more than one occasion we have looked outside to see her playing in the cul-de-sac or on the swingset in high heels and or a dress. She has always been very much a princess.
So, I return to the fitting room area and I am standing outside the area where the girls are changing. Thoughts started running through my mind and tears began to form in my eyes. Would Bri ever see her true prom? The thought was very hard to fathom. Brianna’s social worker, Stacey, saw me and came over and was patting me on the back. She said, “You are not the first Dad who has cried in here tonight and you won’t be the last. It’s OK.” I tried to put on the happy face before the girls came back out but inside I was in fear from my earlier thoughts. When the girls came out fear turned to pride. They all looked beautiful! And yes, my emotions took over again.
After the ladies found their dresses we looked through the jewelry and scarves. They picked out a few items and Tori picked out a red boa to match her dress. She was just getting more and more girly. Our personal shopper then led us to the shoes where the ladies had more fun choosing a pair to match their dresses. I went over and was fitted for a tux and Angie wheeled Bri over in her chair and I let her pick out the colors for my vest and tie. She decided to pick colors to match her dress and she did a very good job of it. Yep, you guessed it. Her dress was pink. But, I have never been afraid to wear pink and it would not matter what color it was. If she was proud of the color she picked for Daddy to wear then I would be proud too. And I was.
This post is getting long so the next one will cover prom night. Don’t miss the magic.